Luke Hyams’ (no relation to Peter Hyams) The Beast of XMoor (X Moor) at first glance reminded me of Daniel Nettheim’s far superior The Hunter, which also revolves around the hunt for a cryptid (according to Wikipedia, an animal or plant who’s existence had been suggested but not discovered by the scientific community).
In the case of Nettheim’s movie the animal in question was a Tasmanian Wolf–which actually may still exist–while The Beast of XMoor‘s seek some sort of panther they suspect is hiding out on the moors.
The most immediate problem with the movie is that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It begins as a search for an a cryptid, then makes a Wrong Turn, with two very rapey Scottish folk, then turns to a confusing serial killer story.
What’s worse–if that were possible–is that the killer is less a threat to the aspiring cryptozoologists than they are to each other.
The Beast of XMoor isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just very unfocused. If it were just about a cryptid–an interesting subject in and of itself–then it would have probably been a much better movie.
If the director had jettisoned the whole cryptid storyline, and instead made a movie about a serial killer, then it might have been a much better movie.
Or if the cryptid and serial killer storyline were abandoned, and instead the story revolved about a bunch of mad Scots, then it would have probably been much better movie.
But all three? It’s a bit too much.
Brave the moors of X Moor via Netflix, because otherwise there are too many ways to die.
Jason Zada’s The Forest revolves around Aokigahara, a 14-mile forest that sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji. It’s also known as the Suicide Forest because hundreds of people have killed themselves there over a twenty-five year period.
As if that weren’t horrifying enough, according to Japanese mythology the forest is demon-plagued.
Heck, the movie almost writes itself, which is why I was dismayed to read a review from FilmBook, which pretty much says that the movie shat the bed, replacing any sort of tension and horror with jump scares.
It amazes me–if the review is accurate–how filmmakers can take events, places and things that are actually horrific, and somehow make them less so. The review reminds me of Ouija, a not-very-good movie that somehow managed to make a terrifying object–just looking at ouija boards gives me the willies–boring (luckily the sequel is being directed by Mike Flanagan, who knows a thing or two about horror, having directed Oculus).
And that’s not that an easy thing to do.
This post is based on (admittedly) thin evidence, though there is a logic.
This year Fox released their latest version of Fantastic Four, which was–to put it bluntly–a box-office disaster, earning almost $167 million against at budget of at least $120 million.
At this point, to break even (typically double the production budget), which is the most that Fantastic Four can hope for at this point. There are a lot of people who hope that Marvel Studios regain the license to the characters, though this was before one of the producers, Simon Kinberg, announced that there were plans for a sequel.
Which is utter nonsense, and little more than the producer of a failed movie saving face. The proof is easy enough to see because you’ll find few companies willing to take a franchise that has already failed–and blatantly so–and pump more money into it. By way of example, Disney’s Tron: Legacy earned over $400 million on a $170 million budget while Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim earned $411 million on a $190 million budget. Most of that money was earned internationally, which was probably why Universal was so reticent about going in on a sequel with Legendary.
Both films were moderate successes, yet neither are getting sequels (though hope springs eternal for the latter). Continue reading
Color me confused, but what’s going on with Ridley Scott and Prometheus? As far as I could tell, he did all he could to distance the movie from Alien–the original screenplay by Jon Spaihts was called Alien: Engineers (click on the link to read) was firmly entrenched in the Alien universe, while the re-write by Damon Lindelhof was significantly less so in that it involved the personalities and architecture of Alien without actual Aliens (the photo-Alien at the end not withstanding).
So imagine my surprise when I saw this (courtesy of Comicbookmovie.com):
Alien: Paradise Lost.
From seeming not interesting in playing in the Alien sandbox, to diving in up to his neck, I am not sure if this is a good thing for the franchise. Visually, Scott is a very talented director–with perhaps one of the most distinctive visual styles today–but this odd indecisiveness (I know of nothing else to call it) is a bit disturbing.
In the past I have been a huge fan of Clive Barker’s work. From the Books Of Blood, Imajica to the Great And Secret Show, if it were written by Barker, I was reading it though I began to move away from his writing when I noticed in books like Sacrament that it seemed that he was moving away from horror.
I also enjoyed, for the most part, the movies he helmed like Hellraiser and Lord Of Illusions (Nightbreed had some good elements, though I always felt that it never quite jelled for me).
I particularly recall enjoying Weaveword as well, though when I recently learned that he was executive producing (and I assume writing, sooner or later) a series based on it, I got a bit of a sinking feeling because its on network tv (the CW) and if there’s one thing that permeated Barker’s work, which I am reasonably sure won’t translate, is a sensualness–in some instances, blatantly so–of Barker’s writing.
I was always of the opinion that sex was what underlie most of his novels and short stories (as well as his movies, particularly Hellraiser and The Lord Of Illusions) and be it hetero or homo, if you take that away from the reinterpretation of his work, while it may be interesting, it’s not Barker.
Which is why I am surprised to learn that Weaveworld failed to work on Showtime. I don’t know the details, cable sounds like the perfect place for it (or Netflix. That would be awesome).
“Harbinger Down isn’t a bad movie, though it mimics a much better one.”
Alec Gillis, besides being the director of Harbinger Down, runs StudioADI along with Tom Woodruff, so it goes without saying that practical special effects are in his blood.
And indisputably the greatest practical effect-based horror film is John Carpenter’s The Thing, so it’s logical that Gillis would use it as inspiration for his feature debut.
The problem is that Harbinger Down so slavishly mimics Carpenter’s movie that it only serves to show how Gillis would have probably been better served by a more original story, though even that would have not even been too big a hurdle for me to enjoy this movie if it were better written and cast because a lot of the dialog doesn’t ring particularly true, and isn’t helped when many characters pivotal to the plot are almost Asylum-quality (Lance Henriksen is an exception; though at least initially the editor of the movie seemed reluctant to let scenes breathe, which would have went a long way to help flesh characters out. It’s also worth mentioning that the movie plays better the second time around).
And I know that I already mentioned that Harbinger Down apes Carpenter’s movie, though the opening is from Carpenter’s movie, which is a bit much (it’s actually not, but so close that the difference is almost negligible).
The teaser trailer to Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book has recently dropped, and visually it reminds me of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (which isn’t a bad thing, especially considering that it was remarkably successful despite the having actors unknown to most Americans–and probably a large percentage of international audiences as well–with perhaps the exception of Gérald Depardieu and if you push it, Rafe Spall and Irrfan Khan).
I wouldn’t be particularly enthused about this movie, if it weren’t for Favreau’s Zathura and Chef, both of which show that he has a way of bringing out the best in child actors.